From the age of 30 athletes will start to feel the affects of ageing. V02 Max starts decreasing by about 10% every 10 years for both male’s and female’s. V02 Max is the maximum amount of oxygen an athlete can use and transport around the body during exercise. It is usually measured in milliliters per kg of body weight.
V02 max is determined by a few things but most importantly cardiac output, maximum heart rate and muscle extraction. Cardiac output is the volume of blood that your heart can pump out per beat, maximum rate is how many beats per minute and muscle extraction is how much oxygen your muscles can extract from your blood and use. So as you can see, there are a lot of things that come into play talking about V02 max. Some training aids like Garmin/ Wahoo/ Polar will display your V02 Max. But it can be calculated
VO2 Max Calculation:
- VO2 Max = 15.3 x (Max Heart Rate /Resting Heart Rate )
Simply divide your maximum heart rate by your resting heart rate, and then multiply by 15.3.
As an athlete ages we also notice a decrease in lactate threshold. Lactate threshold is the point at which your blood lactate level starts to increase rapidly while you exercise. We see this happening usually when an athlete hits 85% of their max heart rate in training. Below this lactate level the body is able to maintain lactate levels and remove it from the blood stream without it building up. As we age, this threshold lowers making it more difficult to sustain high levels of intensity for longer periods.
We also notice a decrease in muscle mass as we age. This is due to a few factors. Lower testosterone, increase in external factors, a reduction of nerve cells that send messages to your muscles to move, decreasing hormone levels, decline in your body’s ability to process protein into energy and not consuming enough calories. Muscles are highly adaptable and respond to stress, lack of this causes atrophy.
So what can we do to combat these signs of ageing?
In terms of V02 max, the best thing you can do is to focus on maintaining a high level of training, usually in the zone of 110-120 % of your Functional Threshold Power. Interval training in lots of 3-5 minutes for a minimum of 20 minutes in total at least 3 times a week. To get the most out of these sessions and make sure that you are making a dent in the ageing process the hard needs to be hard and the easy needs to be easy. Recovery gets more important as you age and becomes much slower so doing those easy rides can really help as a matter of active recovery.
To combat lactate threshold reduction as you get older, athletes can benefit from actively training this. By pushing your limits using a systematic approach, you can improve you body’s ability to buffer and remove lactic acid that builds up. If you want to dive deeper into lactate threshold training head to the PCS website and book in a breakthrough call with me. We can discuss what the best approach is for your particular circumstances. Book A Breakthrough Session – PCS Coaching
As we age our body starts to lose elasticity in it’s soft tissues. This can be reversed through doing regular stretching exercise, Pilate’s, yoga and using the foam roller post exercise. PCS athletes have access to our huge online library of passive / active stretching and core workouts that we have carefully incorporated into their programs.
Decreased muscle mass can be reversed through incorporating strength work into your training program. It is important to priorities this, and from research we can see that less reps at a higher weight is giving the best advantages. Heavier weights are better from a hormone point of view and also to increase bone density, which is another thing that declines with age. Ideally incorporating strength training year round and not only keeping it for your off season is a good plan.
Increased body fat is also something that older athletes have to try and manage. Thanks to hormones and external factors, as we age our body holds on to more fat that it would when we are at our peak. Men and women carry this fat in different areas of the body. Diet has been shown to have the most impact on weight. We have written a blog about this that can be found on the website Nutrition and Cycling – PCS Coaching. It seems that having a mixed diet comprising of plant based ingredients e.g. mostly vegetables and fruits and little meat has been shown to give athletes the most benefit and also reduces adverse health outcomes. Your diet needs to be sustainable and not just a quick fix. Changing daily habits and making your way of eating part of life, will greatly enhance your chances of getting the full benefits and reduce the effects of ageing.
The good thing is that the more base training and high level of cycling fitness you do in your younger years, the slower your rate of ageing related factors will affect you after the age of 30. It looks like 6 weeks is the amount of time you can have off before the effects of age start to appear and your body will start losing fitness. So don’t stay off the bike for too long and make sure you are have a good variety of intensity, long slow km’s, adequate recovery days, varied diet comprising of mostly vegetables and fruit, participate in stretching and range of movement exercises daily and start taking strength training seriously! Easy right 😉
High Performance Mountain Bike Coach
My speciality is helping serious and recreational mountain bikers break through plateaus to attain higher levels of performance so that they can get fitter, faster, stronger and win more races!